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How do birds' tails work? Delta-wing theory fails to predict tail shape during flight

Evans, MR; Rosén, Mikael LU ; Park, KJ and Hedenström, Anders LU (2002) In Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences 269(1495). p.1053-1057
Abstract
Birds appear to use their tails during flight, but until recently the aerodynamic role that tails fulfil was largely unknown. In recent years delta-wing theory, devised to predict the aerodynamics of high-performance aircraft, has been applied to the tails of birds and has been successful in providing a model for the aerodynamics of a birds tail. This theory now provides the conventional explanation for how birds tails work. A delta-wing theory (slender-wing theory) has been used, as part of a variable-geometry model to predict how tail and wing shape should vary during flight at different airspeeds. We tested these predictions using barn swallows flying in a wind tunnel. We show that the predictions are not quantitatively well supported.... (More)
Birds appear to use their tails during flight, but until recently the aerodynamic role that tails fulfil was largely unknown. In recent years delta-wing theory, devised to predict the aerodynamics of high-performance aircraft, has been applied to the tails of birds and has been successful in providing a model for the aerodynamics of a birds tail. This theory now provides the conventional explanation for how birds tails work. A delta-wing theory (slender-wing theory) has been used, as part of a variable-geometry model to predict how tail and wing shape should vary during flight at different airspeeds. We tested these predictions using barn swallows flying in a wind tunnel. We show that the predictions are not quantitatively well supported. This suggests that a new theory or a modified version of delta-wing theory is needed to adequately explain the way in which morphology varies during flight. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences
volume
269
issue
1495
pages
1053 - 1057
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • wos:000175826100011
  • pmid:12028763
  • scopus:0037157020
ISSN
1471-2954
DOI
10.1098/rspb.2001.1901
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a17af7bf-14d2-455f-949a-aac7f1b52bab (old id 131610)
date added to LUP
2007-06-25 07:53:03
date last changed
2017-07-30 04:41:53
@article{a17af7bf-14d2-455f-949a-aac7f1b52bab,
  abstract     = {Birds appear to use their tails during flight, but until recently the aerodynamic role that tails fulfil was largely unknown. In recent years delta-wing theory, devised to predict the aerodynamics of high-performance aircraft, has been applied to the tails of birds and has been successful in providing a model for the aerodynamics of a birds tail. This theory now provides the conventional explanation for how birds tails work. A delta-wing theory (slender-wing theory) has been used, as part of a variable-geometry model to predict how tail and wing shape should vary during flight at different airspeeds. We tested these predictions using barn swallows flying in a wind tunnel. We show that the predictions are not quantitatively well supported. This suggests that a new theory or a modified version of delta-wing theory is needed to adequately explain the way in which morphology varies during flight.},
  author       = {Evans, MR and Rosén, Mikael and Park, KJ and Hedenström, Anders},
  issn         = {1471-2954},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1495},
  pages        = {1053--1057},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Royal Society of London. Proceedings B. Biological Sciences},
  title        = {How do birds' tails work? Delta-wing theory fails to predict tail shape during flight},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2001.1901},
  volume       = {269},
  year         = {2002},
}